Thursday 29 September 2016

Immigrant Moths

Small Mottled Willow - this is the first one I've trapped this year. It is an immigrant species and was trapped alongside a couple Silver Y, 1 Rush Veneer, 1 Olive-tree Pearl and 1 Rusty-dot Pearl.

Cypress Carpet - other species trapped last night included Angle Shades, Common Marbled Carpet, Garden Carpet, Pale Mottled Willow, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Large Ranunculus, Feathered Ranunculus, Square-spot Rustic, Lunar Underwing, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Double-striped Pug, Ruddy Streak (Tachystola acroxantha), Southern Bell (Crocidosema plebejana), Narrow-winged Grey (Eudonia angustea) and Light Brown Apple Moth.

Olive-tree Pearl - a beautiful immigrant species that I never tire of seeing. Shown in two resting postures. The posture shown below is the most frequently adopted in my limited experience.

Cypress Pug

Square-spot Rustic - probably the most common species that I've trapped this autumn. Also a very variable species.

Lunar Underwing. Don't think this is a pale Beaded Chestnut but I could be wrong.

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Convolvulus and Hummingbird Hawk-moths

Spot the Moth
I'm always scanning walls for resting moths, especially around lights, and as they have a tendency to leave outside lights on in the Bristol Schools camp the buildings there are always given a degree of scrutiny. I surprised myself this evening though by somehow 'locking on' to a cryptically marked Convolvulus Hawk-moth resting on one of the wooden huts. I've never found one at rest in the daytime before. A few minutes later I found a Hummingbird Hawk-moth on a different building. The first I've seen in a while.
Bird-wise just 7+ Chiffchaffs, c50+ Meadow Pipits, 2 Yellow Wagtails and several Swallows made the notebook.
I had a quick look at Orcombe early on Sunday morning but only logged 6+ Turnstones, 18+ Chiffchaffs, c50+ Meadow Pipits, 18 Swallows, 5+ Siskins (my first of the autumn), 1 Grey wagtail, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 1+ Goldcrest, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Blackcap, 1 Snipe and 1 Stock Dove.
There were 13 Sandwich Terns of Mudbank last night.

Convolvulus Hawk-moth

Hummingbird Hawk-moth

Saturday 24 September 2016


Wildfowl off Mudbank with Starcross in the background.
Football all morning in Okehampton. The match was at Simmon's Park - a lovely spot next to the river, complete with Dipper and Grey Wagtail. A 4-1 win was a good result with Joel hammering a low free kick into the opposition's goal, which put a bigger smile on my face than the Dipper did.
This afternoon I managed to pop down to Mudbank where wildfowl numbers had again increased - 112 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, c800+ Wigeon, 85+ Pintail, 47 Mute Swans and a number of Mallard. Also recorded were 3 Sandwich Terns, 3 Grey Plovers, 4 Bar-tailed Godwits, 5 Dunlin, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Great Crested Grebe and 1 Mediterranean Gull. Two Ospreys were hunting together upriver at 330pm.
These adult Pale-bellied Brent Geese kept away from the Dark-bellied flock. The bird on the right was about as dark as I've seen for a Pale-bellied. Both were very worn-looking and brown-toned.
Barred Sallow - the first I've seen in a long while. It was a bit too windy last night to be any good. Just 1 Rusty-dot Pearl and 2 Silver Y on the immigrant front.

Thursday 22 September 2016

Eyed Hawk-moth

Eyed Hawk-moth (with our crazy hound Coco in the background) - courtesy of our neighbour Neil who discovered it whilst collecting cooking apples in his garden. I think it's pretty much fully grown - a fabulous caterpillar. Many thanks Neil.
Birding very slow at the moment. A quick look at Orcombe this evening revealed 10 Wheatears, 2+ Yellow Wagtails and c50+ Meadow Pipits.

Think this is a Southern or maybe Migrant Hawker - Orcombe Point. Patrolling backwards and forwards along Gore Lane - nicely sheltered from the wind. Surprisingly well camouflaged when settled. Can't get massively excited about dragonflies though.

Copper Underwing. A tatty individual but the first I've seen this year.

Tortrix sp

Tuesday 20 September 2016

Yellow Wags

Yellow Wagtail - Orcombe Point
Fourteen plus Yellow Wagtails this evening. I've really struggled to photograph them this year so it was nice to get something at least today. Birding has been slow though with just 8+ Wheatear, c20+ Meadow Pipit and c5/10+ Chiffchaff present this evening.
There was a single White Wagtail on the beach and early yesterday morning there was a small gathering of waders on the beach consisting of 21 Dunlin, 7 Ringed Plovers and 4 Sanderlings. A Greenshank was the only bird of note off Mudbank.

Centre-barred Sallow (left) and Sallow

Common Marbled Carpet - this species shows a variety of colour forms but this is my favourite.

Sunday 18 September 2016

Bits 'n' Bobs

Sallow - a much more heavily marked individual than the one I trapped the other day. The trap was virtually empty last night following a cool and breezy night. Two Silver Ys were the only immigrants.
Nick and I did Orcombe this morning. It was overcast at dawn but Meadow Pipits were moving in force for the duration. Totals for 0630 - 0850 - c2/300+ Meadow Pipit (a very rough estimate), 4 Ringed Plover (lifeboat station), 15+ Chiffchaffs, c20+ Goldfinches, 7 'Alba' Wagtails, 1+ Goldcrest, 6+ Yellow Wagtails (in with the cows), 1 Wheatear, 1 Reed Bunting, 1 Tree Pipit, 30+ Swallows, 3 Grey Wagtails, 1 Blackcap and 1 Skylark over - the first of the autumn, not counting the resident pair. A 'strung-out' flock of 31 Ravens was notable though not unprecedented at this time of year.
I did Mudbank twice - later on in the morning and again early evening, and recorded 45 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 1 Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 2 Sandwich Terns, 2 Great Crested Grebes, 34 Pintail, 1 Teal, c4/500+ Wigeon, 3+ Yellow Wagtails, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 5+ Bar-tailed Godwits, 4 Mediterranean Gulls (3 ad + 2w) and 1 Common Sandpiper.

Turnip Moth - the first I've trapped in ages.

Western Conifer Seed Bug - found this on the floor of our outside loo. Apparently they're native to North America and were first imported (presumably accidentally) in 1999. I think they're a pest species but they look pretty smart.

Brent Geese off Mudbank - 29 Dark and a single Pale-bellied bird. By the evening the Dark-bellied total had risen to 45.

Four of thirty four Pintail counted today.

Wigeon - large numbers today - an estimated 4/500+ dropped it as the tide started to recede.

Canary-shouldered Thorn

An immigrant Rush Veneer pretending to be a piece of dead grass.

First-winter White Wagtail - Sandy Bay caravan park. I have a strange inclination to document these birds having seen only one in Exmouth last year. They're stunning birds.

First-winter Pied Wagtail for comparison. This one was on the cricket pitch with several other Pied and 2 White Wags. A much darker, dingier and scruffier-looking bird.

Saturday 17 September 2016

Latest Stuff

I had to do Orcombe faster than usual this morning as we had to be at football in Exeter for 915am. It was a beautiful morning but only the usual suspects were on the move. In just over an hour after dawn I recorded 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 4+ Wheatears, 9+ 'Alba' Wagtails, 9 Grey Wagtails, 12+ Chiffchaffs, 10+ Yellow Wagtails, c100+ Meadow Pipits, 1 Little Egret, 1 Kestrel and 5+ Tree Pipits.
At lunchtime I took a cuppa out in to the garden and scoped the river. An Osprey was hunting way upriver at 1220 and 10 minutes later it or another was putting all the wildfowl and a load of Oystercatchers up off Mudbank.
Late this afternoon an/the Osprey was again watched hunting further upriver from Mudbank (1745 and 1800) and there were 4 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 2 Redshank, 3 adult Mediterranean Gulls, 6 Ringed Plovers, 2 Grey Plovers and my first Golden Plover of the autumn.

Two of three Yellow Wagtails on the cricket pitch - Thursday evening. A couple Wheatears and White Wagtails were with them.

Thirteen Ringed Plovers and 2 Dunlin were on Exmouth beach on Thursday evening. This would have been quite a novelty had we not had far more birds a couple weeks ago.

This, the third Spotted Flycatcher of the autumn, perched briefly in cliff-top scrub shortly after dawn before disappearing off towards the Geoneedle.

Wednesday 14 September 2016


About 15 Wheatears on Orcombe this evening. They all looked large, leggy and richly-coloured to me - presumably 'North-western' or 'Greenland' types. Additionally there was a flock of c60/70+ Meadow Pipits, 1 Whitethroat and 6+ Chiffchaffs. The cricket pitch held 6 White Wagtails and a single Wheatear. Again the White Wags fed in a separate group to the Pieds.
The only birds noted off Mudbank were the 14-strong flock of Pale-bellied Brent Geese and a single Dark-bellied bird.
After dropping Joel at football I decided to have a quick look at Woodbury Common. There were a fair few Meadow Pipits up there and hirundines were passing over, but the highlight came at 625pm when an Osprey drifted in from the east and flew low, along the edge of the common. At one stage it looked like it was going to land in a strip of pines but it continued west and out of sight, presumably Exe-bound.

Presumed adult winter male White Wagtail.

Tuesday 13 September 2016

Immigrant Moths

Olive Tree Pearl - Palpita vitrealis
A really good selection of moths was trapped in the garden last night. Cloud and humidity always does the business! The 'stars of the show' were immigrant species - Olive Tree Pearl, Convolvulus Hawkmoth, 4 Silver Y, 3 Rusty-dot Pearl and 3 Rush Veneer. Otherwise amongst the more common species were Pinion-streaked Snout, Sallow, Large Ranunculus, Cypress Pug, Dark Spectacle, Cabbage Moth, Lunar Underwing, Light Emerald, September Thorn, Dusky Thorn, Angle Shades and L-album Wainscot.

The tiny 'f. gammina' form of Silver Y - compare with the normal sized moth below.

Convolvulus Hawkmoth

Sallow - subtly beautiful as always and a sure sign that autumn is here.

Large Ranunculus

Lunar Underwing - another subtly gorgeous moth and one that appears in a number of colour forms.

Pinion-streaked Snout - two of these were trapped last night.

L-album Wainscot - I find it hard to resist photographing this lovely species.